Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

And Let It Begin With Me December 17, 2014

It’s not uncommon for it to happen at any given time during the year. Thanks to the evolution of streaming radio, it can happen with the touch of a button. And around here it does. It doesn’t matter if it’s February or July or September. Christmas music is a favorite thing for my dear forever mom.

What that means for me is I get to hear all my holiday favorites whether its snowy and frigid or sunny and toasty. And I’m not going to lie – it has a way of evoking that special sense of the magic of Christmas regardless of when I hear the words. Frank Sinatra’s original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” are two of the best in my opinion.

Today I (re)discovered a familiar tune that I had forgotten about in recent years. I haven’t heard it much for whatever reason, but when I heard it today it invigorated my previously lacking sense of holiday happiness.

“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me,” the song goes. “Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.” There is something so simple about the lyrics, but what stands out to me is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s role in the world. A personal responsibility for the impact we have on others. And (good or bad) it doesn’t take much.

I think I heard one too many stories of the rude and pushy people out there in the world this holiday season. It got to me.

That ends now.

Today was not unlike most days in my forever home. But hearing that song reminded me yet again what is important in even the most normal of days. Joy. Peace. Love. From the ground up, these are the building blocks of who I am.

So tonight I do my part to bring to life the words of my new favorite Christmas carol. Let there be joy. Let there be peace. Let there be love. And let it all start with me.

 

To Keep Me Warm December 24, 2013

It was 2 a.m. when it occurred to me. This whole mom being nine months pregnant thing is disrupting my sleep schedule almost as much as it is for her and dad. I’m up every time she’s up (which is more and more frequent lately). Certainly she can’t go wherever she’s going alone. Someone has to watch over her to make sure she’s safe wandering the house in the dark.

Loving the Treats!So I follow her wherever she wanders off to, regardless of the time and frequency. Today during our 2 a.m. rendezvous I was overcome with two very impactful pieces of information. First, that it is Christmas Eve. Day one of two of mom’s most favorite days of year. And second, it is freezing outside. Literally. It was 2 degrees at 2 a.m. in our part of the world today. Even when you’re used to it as us Wisconsinites are, weather this brisk still has a way of taking your breath away.

Showing Some LoveBut then again, so does this emotion that seems to overwhelm all members of my forever family at this special time called Christmas. Love. From the ground up, it is all around this time of year. I know because I show it in my extra cuddles. And my doggie kisses. And my tail wags. I share it in every way I know how. And it inevitably comes back to me in droves. It seems to be another one of those emotions that comes alive in its contagiousness.

And it’s not really something we even think about. Real love does. It radiates from us in everything we do, and in doing so creates a distinctive warmth that is sure to spread to the next person ready to receive its glow. Real love is. It becomes us to the point where we aren’t sure which came first – the love of the giver or the receiver.

It was 2 p.m. when things came full circle in my heart. I welcomed mom’s side of the family into my forever home for an afternoon and evening of joy and love. Sure, there were presents. And pretty ribbons. And treats. But none of that mattered as much as the love I felt in the room. At 9 degrees, it was still incredibly brisk outside. But that was outside. Inside it was warm, not just from the heat we are blessed to have but through the love in the air. Tonight I rest easy because (as Frank Sinatra croons in the age-old Christmas carol) I’ve got my love to keep me warm.Love Is

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

A Different Kind of Light December 1, 2013

Salami. It’s one of the less glamorous things I dream about. And today my dreams were realized, as they usually are around this time of year. I knew it the second mom came into the house with those bags from the grocery store. I could smell that deliciousness a mile away. Salami.

It’s a special treat in my forever home, saved only for a special occasion. Around here, it’s a very small part of a very big tradition in the Schmidt home known as Christmas tree day. It came a little earlier than usual this year (thanks, in part, to my parents planning around the impeding arrival of baby Schmidt). Usually this special day happens the first or second weeks of December. Not this year.
Let There Be Light
Christmas came early this year. And with it came a slew of traditions. All I can think to compare it to is when us canines obsessively nest. You’ve all seen it – we can’t lie down until we find the absolute perfect position in the best possible spot. The ritual can take as much as a few minutes sometimes. Though none of it involves lying down, tradition and ritual seem to be incredibly important to my mom this time of year.

All I have ever been able to focus on during Christmas tree day is the salami. So today (after I had secured at least two samples from mom) I focused on the rest of the traditions that surround the day. Mom turns up Christmas music, puts on a silly Santa hat, and prepares a few plates of appetizers for her and dad to munch on while they work. It’s all part of the tradition, and has been since my mom was a little girl.

I enjoy watching them reminisce about where and when they bought certain ornaments. Some bring laughs (like the goofy handmade ones mom made when she was little). A couple bring tears (like the one dad gave to mom a year or two before he passed away). But, as with all rituals, it always ends the same way. And it doesn’t have to make sense. It started with salami but it ends with glowing light. Not just on the tree, but in our hearts.

 

Reflections on Christmas: All dogs go to heaven, right? December 25, 2012

2012-12-24 23.04.57I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. All that tossing and turning mom did in her sleep last night kept me awake. I woke up feeling tired, crabby, and unmotivated. I could tell mom felt the same way because she was snippy with dad over what they should have for lunch of all things.

Then they left for a while to go to a place called church and they came back completely different people. Happy and jovial even. They turned on songs like “Joy to the World” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” and started dancing and singing along. I wanted nothing to do with it.

I overheard their conversation about this place called church and the message they heard about peace on Earth….and this got me to thinking…what peace? Where is it? I’ve heard a good deal of stories on the moving picture window lately of shootings at schools with small children, terrifying storms that force people from their homes, and people in third world countries who probably don’t eat as well as I do. Where in the world is this peace? Perhaps I was blinded by my lack of sleep, but I just don’t see it. How is it that mom and dad do? How is it that they believe?

That’s when the reflective conversation mom and dad were having hit a chord with me. Mom told dad a story of something called confirmation she experienced when she was younger. She said the passage the pastor referenced in church today was her confirmation verse.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” reads John 14:27. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, its so easy to lose sight of peace at the time we need it most, mom said.

That’s when it hit me…this peace they found at church is some pretty powerful stuff. Its a different kind of peace – not of this world, not something bought or borrowed, or something packaged up into an extravagantly wrapped box. Its the peace of hearts that have been reminded that each day is a gift. Its the peace behind this day called Christmas Eve. This place called church sparked Christmas spirit that has caught fire in my heart.

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!